Hanko (Swedish: Hangö) is Finland's southernmost city. It has a major marina; boats on their way between Helsinki and the Archipelago Sea (a very popular sailing destination) mostly stop over here. Hanko is a popular town to visit in summer also otherwise, and a lot of tourism ensures good services and a lot of restaurants in the marina.
As the Hanko peninsula must be passed by all coastal traffic, it was an important stopover already in the Viking Age. It was chartered as town in 1874: a railway had been built as Hanko was to be a winter port of Finland – and Saint Petersburg – sea ice comes late in the open sea off the peninsula. The following year a spa was built, and Hanko became a resort town, with many Russian guests. Finland was at the time part of the Russian Empire. The casino and the richly ornamented wooden houses of Hanko are from this time. The town also got industry.
As Finland became independent in 1917 and the Russian upper class got in trouble by the revolution, the Russian tourists disappeared. After the Winter War 1939–1940 the peninsula was rented to Russia as military base, as demanded by the peace treaty. The border was heavily fortified and manned, and plans for a decisive strike were made on both sides in the beginning of the Continuation War, but actual battles were of small scale and the Russian retreated 1941. Fortification remnants can be seen at several places.
The town has remained a major port for international trade, it has its share of industry, and its role as summer resort has been revived.
The tip of the peninsula is an important birdwatching location, as it makes a good route for migratory birds crossing the Gulf of Finland.
One can get to the Hanko peninsula along highway 25. The town is reached in 1,5 hours from Helsinki so it is suitable for a day trip.
- Main article: Boating on the Baltic Sea#Hanko-Helsinki
The coastal fairways pass the Hanko Peninsula's tip where Hanko is situated. Seafaring, fishing and hospitality to seafarers are in the tradition of Hanko.
Hanko is easy to reach from the sea, but in the archipelago and close to the peninsula tip you have to be careful: there are crossing fairways and freight traffic, and parts of the archipelago are very hard to navigate once you get confused.
The Eastern Harbour (Itäsatama, Östra hamnen) is the biggest and busiest guest marina in Finland. There is another guest marina on the north side of the peninsula.
By train or by bus
The easiest way around Hanko is on foot. Most sights and services are close to the city centre and the marina. Except during the Hangon Regatta, taxis are also easily available and parking space is easy to find for your own car.
- The House of the four winds, Neljäntuulenkuja, Pieni Mäntysaari, ☎ . The House of the four winds was hosted by C. G. E. Mannerhein in 1927-1933
- Hanko Casino, Appelgrenintie 10, ☎ . Not a real casino these days but a lavish wood structure with nice view of sea. The original Hanko Sushi restaurant operates here in the summertime.
- Giant's kettles. These natural rock formations can be found east of the Casino on the rocks by the shore.
- Hanko Regatta (By the marina and all over town). Hangon Regatta yacht race, held yearly in early July is the highlight of the Hanko summer. The race competitors from all countries of the Baltic sea and draws a large number of spectators and the entire city takes on a festive, sometime rowdy carnival atmosphere.
- Swimming. Hanko has really nice sandy beaches to the west of the city and some pebbly ones between the marina and the Casino.
- 1 Bengtskär lighthouse, ☎ . Skerry in the outer archipelago by the mouth of Gulf of Finland, with the tallest lighthouse in the Nordic countries. Tours from Hangö, with optional dinner, sauna, accommodation etc.
- Pizzeria Uno.
- Classic Pizza.
- Origo. Restaurant with a seafood buffet
- Hanko Sushi, Appelgrenintie 10 (It's at the Hangon Casino), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Open only in the summer. This is the first Hanko Sushi restaurant. The chain has now spread to other cities.
- Roxx, the marina bar, Itäsatama, ☎ . Roxx, the marina bar is also open outside of the sailing season, drinks and small eats. Marina sauna is rentable from Roxx outside of sailing season.
Hanko is situated on a peninsula. The train goes north-east to Raseborg, via the picturesque Ekenäs to Karis, where from you can catch a connection east towards Helsinki or west towards Turku. Also national road 25 takes you to Ekenäs and Karis.
Kasnäs can be reached also by boat: there is a day cruise thrice weekly (Tu, W, Sa) via Kasnäs to Örö in the Archipelago National Park. Twice weekly (W, Sa) there is an evening cruise ending in Örö.
You could also befriend a yacht crew and join them.